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He nodded as if unable to speak, touching something deep inside of her. Since they’d started sleeping together, a secret part of her had wondered if he’d leave when this was all over. Now she had her answer. Or at least she hoped she did.

“Let’s go to the hospital okay?” She murmured and brushed a light kiss across his lips.

Without responding, he kicked the car into drive.

“So what happens after this, Dane?”

“What do you mean?” He spared her a sideways glance, but kept his eyes on the icy roads.

“For us. I know we talked about the future, but where do you stand now? Now that all this is over?”

“I told you what I wanted. I’m going to be working a lot, but I’ve already hired a few new employees so I won’t have to be on the road as much.”

Okay, so what did that mean? Did he still want to live with her? She couldn’t bring herself to ask the question. Not and hold onto her pride.

“Oh, okay.”

She chewed on her bottom lip and stared out the window. Buildings and bare trees flew by at a normal speed, and she tried to rein in her frustration. Why couldn’t he speak in plain English?

“Listen, honey, there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about. This might not be the best time, but if we’re going to have a future together, I have to be honest. The guilt’s been eating away at me.”

Great. Here it comes. He’s got a family, or six wives hidden away somewhere. Deep in her bones, she knew that whatever he was about to say wasn’t going to be good. It was in his tone. He cared for her, of that she was certain, but maybe now that the drama was over, his feelings weren’t as intense.

“Okay. I’m a big girl. Just say it.”

She held her breath as they pulled into hospital parking lot. If her heart broke, at least she was in the right place. As they got out of the car and walked towards the emergency entrance, she fought the dread filling up her stomach.

“I should have told you this sooner, but I couldn’t stand the thought of you looking at me with hate in your eyes.”

Okay now he was scaring her a little. “What are you talking about? Hate you? You just saved my life.”

“There’s no good way to say this…In Berlin, after the final investigation, ballistics discovered that my bullet was the one that killed Rachel.”

Her throat caught and she swiveled to face him, just outside the automatic sliding doors. “What? Are you sure?”

He nodded, and pulled her off to the side so they weren’t run over by foot traffic. “Yes.”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“I wanted to, but it never seemed like the right time.”

For once in her life, she was speechless. Why had he chosen this moment to tell her? And how was she supposed to respond anyway?

She shook her head as the ambulance carrying Lexi parked under the covered entry. “Dane, I don’t…”

Amber and Sarah chose that moment to arrive, effectively ending any response she might have had. Not that she even had one.

“Is she okay?”

“Are you okay?”

Questions flew at her from all directions, but she couldn’t find an answer for any of them. Including Dane.

Finally, he turned and left. She wanted to go after him, to talk it out, but had no clue what to say. She wasn’t angry and she certainly didn’t hate him. Her friends herded her into the hospital before she could protest. Lexi needed her and she couldn’t worry about anything else. She owed her friend that much. Her love life could take a back seat for a couple hours.

Chapter 17

Five months later

“All right, honey, I’m headed back to New York.” Robert kissed Calista on the forehead and grabbed his luggage.

“It was good to see you, and you better be back sooner than later. I know it’s not as exciting as New York, but I miss you,” Calista said as she fell back onto the couch.

“I will, don’t worry. What are your plans for the rest of the day?”

“I’m just relieved to be finished with the new album, so probably nothing until tonight. Since its Thursday, I’ll be meeting up with the girls later for drinks, although no wine for me.” She smiled and patted her slightly protruding stomach.

Robert dropped his luggage and crossed his arms over his chest. “You need to tell him. This isn’t right.”

She sighed and propped her feet up on the couch. This was a lecture she’d heard many times before. “It’s not about right and wrong, Robert. I’m going to tell him, as soon as I figure out what to say.”

Calista loved Dane, that much she was sure of, but she wanted to see if he still felt the same way about her after all the drama was over. The past few months had been a blur, but about a month ago, she’d finally sent him a note telling him she forgave him. Finding the right words had been tough, but she’d done it. The letter was short and sweet. Calista wanted it crystal clear that she held no ill will towards him and that he was welcome back in her life. She hadn’t mentioned the pregnancy though. Putting that in a letter just felt wrong, and chicken shit that she was, she hadn’t worked up enough courage to seek him out to tell him personally. Now she was glad she hadn’t because he still hadn’t come to see her. How much clearer could she get that she forgave him? She certainly wasn’t going to beg him to be with her.

People did funny things in climactic situations, and she wanted a relationship based on trust and honesty. Forgiveness wasn’t even the issue, she just needed to know that what they shared was real, and she certainly wasn’t going to force him into anything. And she most definitely wasn’t going to chase after him.

About two weeks after Dane left, she realized she’d missed her period. She took her pill religiously, but in some of the drama she’d forgotten to get a new prescription.

When she first discovered she was pregnant, she’d been panicked for all of two seconds until her panic gave way to elation. Her friends had been supportive and the media was still speculating. She was small in stature so it was hard to tell if she really was pregnant or if she’d just gained weight. Not to mention, she’d curbed her public appearances dramatically. Besides, the paparazzi had more exciting places to be than Charlotte, North Carolina.

“You’re sure you don’t want me to ride with you to the airport?” She changed the subject, knowing what Robert’s answer would be.

“Nah, I’m fine. There’s a car waiting downstairs. Think about what I said.” He gave her one last kiss and saw himself to the door. Less than sixty seconds later she heard a quick knock on the door. She laughed to herself.

“What did you forget this time?” She swung open the heavy door, and found herself face to face with Dane. Her throat constricted, making it difficult to swallow.

Speechless, she stared at him until he moved in from the hallway and quietly shut the door behind him. He didn’t say anything, just took her hand and led her to the living room. He placed a hand on her shoulder, gently pushing her to sit down, since she’d apparently lost the ability to think for herself.

“Hi,” she finally squeaked out.

Calista hadn’t realized how many pent-up emotions she’d been holding inside until she saw his face. More than anything she wanted to reach out and touch him, but kept her distance. Mainly out of self preservation. She didn’t know why he was here.

“Hi,” he said softly. He didn’t look angry, but with him it was hard to tell.

The question came out shaky. “What are you doing here?”

He looked at her belly and then back up at her face. Since it was the end of summer, she wore loose cotton shorts and a tight blue tank top that stretched across her midsection. She didn’t wear clothes like this in public, but in the privacy of her own home she didn’t need to hide her pregnancy.

His voice was raw and unsteady. “What do you think I’m doing here?”

“I guess you want some answers.” She lifted her shoulders in surrender.

“I was giving you your space until I saw a picture of you on the cover of US Weekly.” His voice broke, and he moved until he sat inches from her.

A hot ache grew in her throat as tears streamed down her face. “I’m sorry, Dane. I’ve been trying to think of the right way to tell you, but kept coming up blank. I didn’t want to force you into anything. Besides, I sent you that letter and it’s not like you rushed to see me,” she said the last part softly, but couldn’t hide the pain in her voice.

“Is that what you think? I’ve spent the past few months rearranging my life so I could be with you. I was giving you time to come to terms with what I’d done, then I was going to make you forgive me. And just for the record, I only received your letter two weeks ago. I would have come sooner but there were a few more things I needed to get in order. It was killing me, but everything had to be perfect when I came to see you. I thought I was doing the right thing until I saw that picture.” He reached out and wiped away her tears, letting his hand linger on her jaw before falling to her shoulder.

When he didn’t explain she asked, “Rearrange your life?”

He nodded and took her hands in his. “Nikolai and I’ve hired some new guys. It’s contract work, so I set my own schedule. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything for the next six to eight months. We’ll be too busy.”

“We?” Had she heard right? Her heart wanted to sing, but she didn’t allow those feelings to surface, not until she knew what he meant.

“Yes, we. Honey, I still feel for you what I did months ago. Hell, if it’s even possible, my feelings are stronger. Until you I never knew it was possible to love another person so much.”

She sniffed once. “Love?”

“Of course I love you.”

“You know I love you too?”

“I do now.” He smiled and tentatively placed his hands on her belly.